Big plans and orangutans: How Amplitude turned it up to ten

This article was written by Digital Northants, you can find the original article here

Amplitude Media this week celebrates 10 years as a limited company.

It started with just me originally as a freelancer. My background was working in editorial management and event management in the fashion and consumer media sectors.

I started doing consultancy work and it’s grown from there. Now we’re a team of 12 and we’re a full service agency doing everything end to end from brand and marketing strategy through to the full suite of marketing deliverables – film production, animation, photography, graphic design, copywriting – and our ideal projects now work across all of those different elements.

We’ve always been in Northampton.

My first member of staff worked on an ironing board in my dining room and we moved into our first studio on Henry Street in around 2013. Now we’re based in the Phipps Brewery.

We moved here four years ago and we’ve slowly taken over more and more of the building in that time. We love being in this building. It’s all creative industries – it has a nice networking and creative hub feel to it.

The best thing about being based in Northampton is the people.

As well as running Amplitude, I’ve been heavily involved in the music industry in Northampton for years and there are so many brilliant, talented creatives here. We have waiting lists of talent and I never have problems recruiting.

It’s really exciting to be able to offer a space for that talent to come and do what they do best. Half of our staff are graduates from the University of Northampton. There are loads of good people in this region – the question is more about how we keep them in this area.

Amplitude is now a purpose-driven agency, giving a minimum of 5% of our net profits to environmental charities.

I’m a very active environmental lobbyist, I care about the planet and I’ve always thought I could go further than just signing a few petitions on Facebook. The question for me was how the things I care about could translate to a business environment.

What we’ve found is that putting our values front and centre, saying we are people and planet first, has really opened doors for us in terms of new business. People actually care about this kind of stuff now.

Most of the other organisations that think like us are also up for sharing and collaboration. It’s not just about how great we all are and let’s pat ourselves on the back. There’s an appetite for openness and transparency from all companies that are green-aligned. That can help drive business for all of us.

Our Two Thousand Trees project in 2019 was our first environmentally-focused campaign.

For every client project we planted 30 trees. The aim was to plant 2,000 in total. We went out to our clients and brought them along on the journey with us. One of our biggest clients was Reed Professional Services and they match-funded the 1,000 trees we planted for them so the overall total went up to 3,000.

It was a huge success. Clients really got on board with it and loved seeing how our work with them equated to something bigger. It encouraged companies to think about their own environmental impact and corporate responsibility. It worked so well we wanted to go one step further so we asked clients about what matters to them and their staff.

As a result we devised

Your Planet, Your Choice. Clients accrue tokens for every spend as part of a project with us. For example, they might get 10 tokens and they can choose how to spend those across our 3 partner charities.

One token can get you one of three things – 30 trees planted through One Tree Planted, a sponsored orangutan through International Animal Rescue or £30 worth of Ocean Clean-Up, who remove plastic from our oceans.

A couple of years ago, Avon sponsored 80 orangutans with us over the course of 12 months. Their staff could see pictures of the orangutans and loved that they were actually contributing to something. It wasn’t just a box-ticking exercise.

What we’re doing for 2023 is relaunching the whole project as Your Planet, More Choice.

We’re bringing in more partner charities, we’ll be developing partner packs and creating more materials for clients and their staff to go on this journey with us.

Last year we did a massive, pro bono project for International Animal Rescue, one of our partner agencies. That involved six months of social media, animation campaigns, billboards all over the US and Canada, TV adverts in the US, and we used it as an opportunity to learn – we’d never done anything so complicated before. It had a hundred moving parts across different countries.

It was definitely very daunting, but we embraced it as well. It’s meant we’ve learned to manage a project on that scale, so we can take our new skillset and a proven case study to other clients. It’s exciting for me to use the values-based work to level up the company.

We’re now really ready to grow.

We’ve massively invested in infrastructure and people, doubling our head count over the past couple of years. We’ve completed overhauled our project management, process mapping and system workflows as part of our four-day week exercise. We’re now ready to go into the big league. We can now deliver full, end-to-end campaigns.

We’re a creative agency and it’s our job to innovate.

We’re hoping to develop into gamification so we’ve started to look at AR and VR. Of course, there are leading companies already doing this kind of thing in Northamptonshire and we’re not here to compete, we’re here to collaborate.

There are loads of opportunities to work with others. Perhaps we can do 80% of a project and another great local company could do 20%. That keeps the money in the area and stops the drain of cost and talent down to London.

We started off doing small pieces of work with large companies based in Northampton and we’ve grown those accounts.

We’d love to have more local accounts because it really taps into minimising our carbon footprint, greater sustainability and how we can support the local ecosystem.

Covid has changed perspectives and the switch to hybrid working has steered that cultural shift. Do you need to make trips down to London to visit a fancy agency or can you look more locally?

Because one of the great things about Digital Northants is you realise what a great ecosystem we have – you’ve got all this talent on your doorstep. Hopefully through the ethical work we’re championing, it’ll give us an opportunity to open doors for local businesses.

A lot of our skillset growth has come via client request.

In the past year our animation department has grown from nothing to be about a third of the business and we’re getting a reputation as a leading animation house.

But that’s come from clients. They’ll ask if we know how to do something, and if it’s new to us, we figure out how to do it. A long-term working relationship with a client will help you develop as a business. A good client will give you the freedom to work through something using trial and error.

We aim to attract clients that think like us and if they’ve been attracted to us because of our shared values we’re already off to a great start.